An arbitrator has thrown the book at Alex Rodriguez, suspending him for the entire 2014 season as well as the post season, it was announced on Saturday. While it is likely that A-Rod did indeed use PEDs, MLB’s behavior in this case was deplorable and he was treated unfairly by both the league and the arbitration system.
Rodriguez is vowing to challenge the ruling in federal court, but courts historically do not like to get involved in cases that involve a collectively bargained arbitration process.
The ruling can actually be seen as something of a victory for A-Rod because it reduced the 211-game suspension to 162 games, but still, losing a full season as well as $25 million is a tremendous defeat.
But Alex Rodriguez is not giving up. He issued a statement on Saturday:
The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.
I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal.
There are reports that A-Rod was willing to accept a shorter suspension, but nothing longer than the 65 games that Ryan Braun got. That would have been put an end to the saga, but Bud Selig would have none of that. He wanted Rodriguez out, plain and simple.
MLB went to great lengths to achieve Selig’s goal. It bought stolen Biogenesis documents for $150,000, although the league claimed it did not know the documents were stolen when it bought them. Part of the rationale for A-Rod’s extended suspension was for obstructing the investigation for allegedly trying to buy the same documents. So MLB can buy them, but Alex Rodriguez can’t?
MLB also got the cooperation of Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch by agreeing to drop criminal charges against him. So how reliable was this sleazy witness?
Rodriguez stormed out of the arbitration hearings when the arbitrator ruled that Bud Selig did not have to testify. Even though this was not a court of law, A-Rod had the right to face his accuser and this basic right was denied. So when Rodriguez says that the “deck has been stacked against” him, he has a valid point. Selig should have been man enough to get up there and state his case for the 211-game suspension that he handed down. But the way Selig operates, we should not be surprised that he took the coward’s way out.
An appropriate suspension for Alex Rodriguez would have been 50 games, plus a few more for his alleged actions to hinder the investigation (Braun got 15 extra games for his infamous news conference in which he lied about his positive test). Instead, MLB came up with this arbitrary number of 211, and the arbitrator lowered it to an also arbitrary 162.
It is unlikely that Alex Rodriguez will win his fight in court, so he will be gone for all of 2014. This “victory” for MLB will only empower it to continue its thuggish ways in future PED cases.